“I take my first breath. I know nothing… I see my mother, my brothers and sisters… I’m alive. This should be good but somehow something seems wrong. What faith awaits me?…” — puppy mill dog
For the love of profit…
It’s time for another social activism article because it’s Puppy Mill Action Week! What is a puppy mill, you ask? It’s a gigantic, commercialized dog breeding operation that chooses the pets’ profits over the pets’ well being. The puppies are usually in neglected circumstances because the people don’t practice responsible breeding.
Puppy mills are commonly overcrowded and unsanitary. Some puppy mills are small – only breeding 10 dogs at a time. Others are enormous with more than 1,000 breeding dogs. They lack adequate veterinary care, food and water, and socialization. These puppies don’t get toys, treats, or exercise. Their cages are usually stacked up in columns and have wire flooring to minimize waste cleanup. Outdoor puppy mills could mean that the doggies are constantly exposed to the elements. On the flipside, some doggies may be crammed in a filthy container and never know beyond that dark space.
Because puppy mills are all about making the most profit, female dogs are bred every chance they can. They usually have no recovery between litters. After a few years of this abuse, the female dog may no longer be able to reproduce. At this point, she is killed. The puppies are also taken away from their moms at very young ages and are neglected of a mother figure.
One of the many other problems with breeding via puppy mills is that genetic qualities are not considered. Generations of dogs are created without having their hereditaries checked. This can lead to defects being passed down without notice. According to the ASPCA, diseases and illnesses are prevalent in dogs who are bred in puppy mills including epilepsy and respiratory disorders. Aside from physical symptoms, these puppies can also develop behavioral problems.
Puppy mills are not always illegal (thought most should be as they violate numerous violations). There is a law called the Animal Welfare Act that states that any breeder who has more than three female dogs and sells the puppies must be licensed and inspected by the USDA. There are usually 2,000 to 3,000 USDA-licensed puppy mills in operation in the U.S. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include the number of illegal operations and, because of this, it’s hard to provide an exact number. The ASPCA estimates that there could possibly be as many as 10,000 puppy mills operating in the U.S.
How can you spot an illegal “backyard” operation? Here are some major red flags:
- The seller/breeder is offering many types of purebreds at less than six weeks old.
- The seller/breeder is hesitant to show customers the entire premises on which the animals are being kept.
- The seller/breeder doesn’t ask the customer too many questions.
- No guarantees are made. It is typical for responsible breeders to make a commitment to take back the pet for any reason at anytime during the animal’s life.
So what can you do to stop or spread awareness about puppy mills? Here are a few tips:
- Contact your federal and state legislators. Tell them that you want stricter laws on puppy mills.
- Write a letter to your local newspaper and spread awareness in your community.
- The Humane Society has a Puppy Friendly Pet Stores initiative. Check it out here.
- Puppy mills usually sell online or in pet stores. You may really want that one particular type of dog, but consider going to a shelter and adopting instead.
- If you do decide to go to a breeder, ensure that they are a responsible breeder. Signs of a responsible breeder include carefully screening buyers, showing the entire establishment to the customer, and meeting both of the puppy’s parents.
Animals are living beings that deserve to be raised with love, care and attention. Puppy mills are a greedy business. Even in today’s day and age, many people don’t seem to be aware of deplorable conditions puppies come from. Help raise awareness by spreading the word to help educate our communities.
Do you have any tips that can help bring down the puppy mill industry?